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Balabanova All Over

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[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 23-24, 2017] I spent the last few days spending time with dear friends and family before I head back to Los Angeles. On Saturday, I spent the whole day at my friend Slaveya’s house. Another friend of hers visited, and we had 3 coffees and snacks over a six-hour period. 🙂 I always wonder why I can’t do that in the US. I cannot remember the last time I… Read More

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[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 22, 2017] We returned from Greece on Thursday, Sept 21. Our host Keti made us Greek coffee before we left. This was very similar to Turkish coffee, which is not surprising – both Bulgaria and Greece spent hundreds of years under Ottoman rule. Friday, Sept 22 was another official holiday in Bulgaria – the Day of Independence. I was not exactly sure how this day was different from our… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 17, 2017] Today is another big holiday in Bulgaria. We celebrate St. Sophia, Vyara, Nadezhda and Ljubov. The last three names mean Faith, Hope and Love in Bulgarian, and Sophia means The Holy Wisdom of the Lord (from Greek, Agia Sophia).  Everyone who carries one of these four names celebrates what we call a name day. Since I carry the name Nadezhda, today was my name day. The city… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] I had a leisurely last morning in Berlin. My train to Hamburg was not until half past noon, so I had breakfast at my favorite little bakery around the corner from my AirBnB, then went to see one last attraction – Hackesche Hoefe. These are a series of courtyards connecting restored buildings in the Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) style. The courtyards are full of shops, restaurants and there’s even a… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] I got a hint of Germany’s tumultuous 20th century history yesterday at the German History Museum, but today I got hit in the face with it. I started with Dutch and German painters in the Gemaeldegallerie (“Painting Gallery” in German), but the day turned somber as I visited memorials dedicated to Hitler’s victims and the Berlin Wall. To get to the Gemaeldegallerie, I traveled to Potsdamer Platz. Previously a wasteland… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] In typical Nadya fashion, I spent the ENTIRE day walking around Berlin, save for a short break around dinner. I racked up 30,000 steps on my step counter, I went into four museums and I watched on amazing sunset from the dome of the Reichstag, to sum it up. I started my day with a coffee at the coffee spot just across from my AirBnB. I sat outisde and people… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria] I love my hometown in the summer. The weather is warm, the parks are green, and the streets are lined with outdoor cafes. Many people leave the city to go to beach resorts in the Eastern part of the country, along the Black sea, and the city is not as crowded as it normally is. There is nothing better than strolling through the city center, then sitting down for a… Read More

[Vienna, Austria] Here it is, before you know it – the last day of my trip! How did this day come so quickly! I am by no means ready to go home yet!!! Honestly, I have so quickly gotten used to the public transport and the amazing food and the architecture and real coffee (espresso) and al fresco dining and castles and high speed trains and such. Alas, I had one more… Read More

[Bratislava, Slovakia] Today’s detour took us into Slavic territory. Just 60 km (37 miles) away from Vienna is the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. This city of 430,000 (of which 60,000 are students) is going through a post-communist era revival that holds the potential for making it the next up-and-coming European capital.

[Vienna, Austria] I had murky memories of Vienna from a high school trip in 1995. It was late December, and the city was decorated to the nines for the holidays. I remember the Christmas market in front of city hall; the main cathedral, Stephansdom; Schönbrunn with its gardens; and an evening outing on the metro during which I’m amazed we didn’t get lost – we were only 15, after all, and this… Read More